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Tallow Shrub Morella cerifera

Previously known as:

  • Myrica cerifera
Description

This whispy, evergreen shrub has multiple trunks of light gray, almost white bark and light olive green leaves that smell spicy when crushed.  You need to plant both male and female plants to enjoy the pale blue berries present on female plants in the winter. 

Native to NC marshes, forests, swamps, and fresh to brackish streams, Bayberry is useful in wetlands or restoration gardens, in wet or shady sites, or on a bank for erosion control. Bayberry requires constant moisture to get established, but is both drought- and flood-tolerant once established. Saline and urban tolerance make it appropriate for confinement within pavement and locations near roads that are salted in winter. Interesting plant for grouping in the corner of a large herb garden. Good selection for stream or pond margins where periodic flooding or drought may occur. Also attractive as a small tree with lower limbs removed.

Fire Risk: This plant has a high flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home. Select plants with a low flammability rating for the sites nearest your home. 

Pest and Disease Issues: No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf browning typically occurs in cold winters. Watch for leaf anthracnose and leaf mosaic.

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#evergreen#birds#songbirds#small spaces#wildlife plant#fragrant leaves#honey bees#nectar plant#native shrub#playground#coastal#fragrant foliage#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#fire#high flammability#buffer#deer resistant#children's garden#native garden#edible fruits#screening
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#fragrant#evergreen#birds#songbirds#small spaces#wildlife plant#fragrant leaves#honey bees#nectar plant#native shrub#playground#coastal#fragrant foliage#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#fire#high flammability#buffer#deer resistant#children's garden#native garden#edible fruits#screening
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Myrica
    Species:
    cerifera
    Family:
    Myricaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Colonists separated berries from their waxy coating by boiling and then made candles, hence the common name.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Piedmont and Coastal Plain of NC
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers provide an excellent source of nectar for honeybees and butterflies. Berries are popular with birds.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Screening
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is moderately deer resistant.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Irregular
    Multi-trunked
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Blue
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Small attractive clusters of tiny, waxy, blue-gray berries.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are fragrant but non-showy, with only the flowers on male plants (catkins to 1” long) displaying some color (a drab yellowish-green).
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Dried
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblanceolate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Light olive-green leaves are dotted with tiny yellow resin glands and emit the distinctive 'bayberry' fragrance when crushed.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    White
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Recreational Play Area
    Riparian
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Salt
    Urban Conditions
    Wet Soil